The land of the free and the home of the brave? Not sure that applies exactly when you’re concerned about getting consumers to use your products. But if what we’re hearing does come to be you could say Microsoft might be getting ready to make a brave move. Apparently Microsoft is nervous enough about Windows 8.1 adoption that it is experimenting with a free version of the OS that would include Bing Apps included called “Windows 8.1 with Bing.” This comes along with discussion that Microsoft might also make Windows Phone OS licensing free.
The idea here is to move adoption of both platforms obviously. But things are still in the rumor stage at the moment. This could mean a version for low end phones and PCs, and it could mean more than that. Already a number of Bing apps come included with Windows 8.1 and that’s what makes this a tough topic to figure out at the rumor stage. The name Windows 8.1 with Bing implies that all is bundled together, but it is tough to imagine Microsoft adopting a model that doesn’t break direct revenue somehow. According to the Verge, leaked builds of Windows 8.1 with Bing don’t look any different than what users of Windows 8.1 already see.
That said, it is well known that Microsoft is nervous about users moving to Windows 8.1 and also gaining customers for Windows Phone. Windows 8 has not taken off the way Microsoft envisioned when it debuted the bold OS change, and Microsoft is already making plans to make it more palatable to desktop users who are not interested in the touch friendly environment unless they are touching a mouse or a keyboard.
We are in a “land of the free” mode today. Apple and Google offer their operating systems and core Apps free to consumers. That obviously puts pressure on Microsoft who has lived on a revenue stream of licensing Windows and Office. Office currently comes bundled with Surface RT based Tablets for free. While that may have been designed as a key selling point for the new ARM based platform, it does send confusing signals.
Remember Microsoft is now under new leadership these days with a new CEO, Satya Nadella. One can imagine quite a few things are being explored for the future. Some of those moves may indeed be brave. The Microsoft Build conference in April is shaping up as very interesting time to see what Microsoft may be planning.